Wednesday, March 08, 2006
The 'Donald Trump' of New Orleans?
Where many people saw hopelessness in the damage and devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Patrick Quinn saw opportunity.

For years, Quinn has been a player in New Orleans real estate. Now, he's making a play to be a major power broker.

He's purchased five buildings since the hurricane and is in discussion for two more. Usually, he says, his company, Decatur Hotels, does only one or two big deals a year.

In fact, The New York Times Magazine this week dubbed him the man who wants to be the "Donald Trump" of New Orleans.

Quinn cringed when I asked if that was his goal, saying, "No, no!" What he really wants, he says, is to branch out from hotels and into residential development.

Quinn started down that path after Katrina, buying a couple of residential lots. But then he slammed on the brakes. He fears city, state, and federal officials have yet to come up with an acceptable plan to redevelop flooded areas like the Lakeview section of New Orleans.

Quinn lived in Lakeview as a kid, attending Catholic schools in this now devastated area. He believes homeowners will return if they are confident the area is safe.

But the clock is ticking on Quinn's plans....Fewer than three months until hurricane season. And unless residents know they will be protected in low-lying areas, Quinn knows they will not return.
Posted By Sean Callebs, CNN Correspondent: 2:28 PM ET
  22 Comments
Someone needs to invest. More power too him. Hopefully not to the detriment of the diplaced. I was in NOLA last week on my way to Pass Christian as a volunteer helping to rebuild homes. A friend took me through the Lake View area. We visted the 17th Street Canal breech and the lower 9th Ward. What shocked me was the scale. In both New Orleans and the Pass Christian/Gulfport area. You just don't get the true sense of how BIG this is until you are there. I was one of the those thinking that people expect to much from the government in these situations. Having been there and having witnessed the huge scale of the destruction, I've changed my mind. The government is the only entity large enough to have a serious, long term impact. Volunteers in the pass are helping one family at a time and doing a tremendous job. There are people from all over the country and volunteers should keep coming. Even with massive government help it could easliy be 20 years before the Gulf Coast is rebuilt.
Posted By Anonymous Marty, Melbourne Florida : 2:59 PM ET
Good for Quinn. It sounds like hes trying to do the right thing. Unfortunately, more people need to take a more aggressive approach at rebuilding that area. Hurricane season will be upon us soon and if there arent serious changes to NO before the first one hits, I dont think there will be much reason to rebuild. And Low-lying areas should not be rebuilt at all.
Posted By Anonymous Larissa, Cht, NC : 3:28 PM ET
Getting in on the ground floor is always a risky, but with a little know how it will all come together. I commend Quinn on what he's doing. If he doesn't do it then who will?
Posted By Anonymous Olisa Hunt Manor, Tx : 3:49 PM ET
This would be a huge gamble in my mind! In watching the increased activity and strength of hurricanes in the region, and with the predictions of the impact of global warming on hurricanes, more power to Patrick Quinn if he is successful. last summer I was visiting with a lifelong friend who has been part of the bountiful amount of information about global warming, and when I asked him what some of the scenarios were with respect to its impact, he said that New Orleans was history � and that was three months before Katrina. Maybe in a few months the rest of us will be able to comprehend what my friend already knows.
Posted By Anonymous Ross Jackson, Albany Oregon : 4:22 PM ET
If he's from New Orleans, I guess he can't really be called a carpetbagger, can he? Maybe he's not an outsider who went south to take advantage of the destruction, take advantage of speculative and commercial opportunities. But he's doing it for the money, right?

Unfortunately, it's the people with money who are going to make more money with the rebuilding of New Orleans. I haven't read anything about industrial zones, or giving minorites a chance to get involved. Today President Bush talked about $150,000 for each house lost. But unfortunately many living in the Ninth Ward didn't own those homes, and won't benefit from that government program, either.

I guess carpet baggers played an important role in rebuilding the south, too, didn't they.
Posted By Anonymous Linda, Boulder, Colorado : 4:31 PM ET
It's great that Quinn is making an effort to rebuild. But all this rebuilding should be at his own risk. The government need to be firm with New Orleans, as well as any resident that CHOOSES to live in a high risk natural disaster area, that our tax money can't bail everyone out.
Theres plenty of room in Montana, the Dakotas, Missouri, and other rural states. If people want to live near the ocean and in the mountains, they have to deal with the risks.
Posted By Anonymous Brian, Bolingbrook, IL : 4:36 PM ET
It occured to me when reading this story that if the federal government is not going to build the levees to the standards they should be maybe the city should impose a levee tax on all new buildings.
Posted By Anonymous Linda, Arundel Maine : 4:48 PM ET
We just might be surprised. Sometimes it is more comforting to return to that which we know, shabby though it might be, than to find ourselves lost and taking a chance on the enticing unknown.
Posted By Anonymous Laura, Laredo, TX : 4:52 PM ET
It seems fairly safe to invest in hotels in downtown New Orleans, since the historic and tourist attractions are intact. Any investment in residential real estate in flooded areas is a pure gamble. We have had many promises from the federal government, but very little action.
Posted By Anonymous Michael, New Orleans, LA : 5:10 PM ET
What about committees being formed to do studies on areas in New Orleans to be rebuilt , I'm sure Patrick is a good man but permanent structures are death traps if the levees give again. Let the people who have already looked the devil in the eye decide there destiny.
Posted By Anonymous Dave Winfield Quincy, IL : 5:17 PM ET
Kudos for Quinn - New Orleanians need more people like him to step up and believe in our beautiful city. Lakeview, St. Bernard, the 9th Ward and the unspoken devestated areas are wonderful places that can once again thrive.
I'm tired of out-of-towners saying that the government shouldn't pay for us to live in a city that's below sea level. If you're that closed minded I'd love to know where you live - do you live where there are tornados, a fault line, mud slides, snow storms, hurricanes - if not, I'd like to go there. Wake up! It's time for people to stop living in a dream world and look at the reality of life. There is no place in this country that doesn't have it's own natural disasters.
It brings me great pleasure to hear that an outsider drove through the devistation and states that you need to see it to believe it - you do! Television doesn't paint any sort of a picture - it's the same pictures over and over. I'd love to show you before and after pictures of my home - that's a reality check for you. Just think once about leaving your home thinking you'd be back in 3 days and not being able to go home for 6 weeks. Then imagine what it would be like to walk into your beautiful home that is now covered in mold the color of the rainbow, smells like a toilet bowl and try to recover some part of your life!
How dare you tell me I shouldn't rebuild.
Posted By Anonymous Gretchen, New Orleans Louisiana : 5:26 PM ET
I live in Lakeview and am about to start restoring my home. What people from outside of this region don't understand is that much of this flood was due to negligence in the Corps of Engineers design and construction of levees. Don't get me wrong, the lower 9th ward, St. Bernard Parish and Plaquemines Parish are very difficult to protect. Simple geography does not allow it to happen. Those residents, unfortunately, are realizing that their homes cannot be rebuilt in the same place. However, the Lakeview area is a completely different situation. The Corps of Engineers has the ability to protect the Lakeview area and the large majority of this region. It will happen and a much smarter New Orleans will rise again. Believe me, Quinn is not the only one buying smart in this area.
Posted By Anonymous David New Orleans, LA : 5:31 PM ET
To Brian from IL, I think it is unfair for you to say that we should assume to risks for where we live. Where is your sense of patriotism? We all live in the country together and the government and citizens should not turn their back on anyone in need. And by the way, we do assume our risks. We have to pay hefty premiums for flood insurance, etc. Additionally there is no need to suggest we should move to the North, I didn't choose to live in New Orleans, and anyone who has ever been here will understand when I say this city chose me.
Posted By Anonymous Shannon, New Orleans LA : 5:37 PM ET
Remember, the damage in the New Orleans area is not hurricane damage. It is due to poor design and construction of levees by the US Army Corps of Engineers. For the first 12 hrs or so after Katrina passed the N.O. area, streets were dry. Flooding occurred only after the levees were breached. The Corps' budget for levee work was slashed to the bone each of the last 3 years, handicapping their mission to protect N.O.
Posted By Anonymous Mary, Metairie LA : 5:42 PM ET
I live in earthquake country and live day in and day out with the realization that at any time an earthquake can reduce my $635.00 per square foot housing investment into a pile of rubble in less than a minute. Add to that, I straddle the hayward fault "the next big one".

I'm having a real issues as a taxpayer. When we rebuilt from mississippi flooding some 10+ years ago, we required everyone to move out of the flood plain as a condition of recieving federal aid.

By best estimates, billions will be spent on rebuilding levees while the entire city sinks and the seas rise another 6 feet in the next 20 years due to global warming. (yes, it is the republican line that gloobal warming isn't really happening because they will all be worm food before you can really see its impact.)

The city is sinking, the sea is rising and the levees are inadequate to protect against a cat 5 storm.

A condition of federal aid should be to raise your home above category 5 storm surge (levees or not..)

Sorry, but when us in earthquake country get wiped out, we get little from the feds other than "you should not build on earthquake land".

You should not build on the coast in hurricane country and if you do, you should expect precious little help from anyone. You rolled the dice and took your chances.
Posted By Anonymous Mike San Francisco ca : 6:42 PM ET
I am a former New Orleanian. I still have family there and I have returned several times since Katrina. I get
very upset with frequent comments by "outsiders". If you have not visited New Orleans (and I think every US
Senator and Representative should!), you have absolutely no idea of the scale of destruction. This isn't a
neighborhood, or a little town, this was the 35th largest city in the United States - destroyed.

The Federal Government is the only one capable of dealing with anything on this scale. The numbers are staggering: over 150,000 homes, 250,000 autos, etc. The US Army Corp of Engineers and the Federal Government are responsible for the design, construction and (lack of) maintenance of the levees and waterways (like MRGO!). The Government is the only provider of "flood insurance". The Federal Government is responsible for the current situation!

I really get upset when I hear "people shouldn't live in New Orleans because it floods". Well, it's over 250 years old and never saw anything like this before. Yes, the pumps and drainage canals need to be improved
(they're almost 100 years old - the Netherlands copied them!). The Army Corp of Engineers has built very stong
levees on the Mississippi river, they can build levees to protect the city from Lake Ponchatrain and a few
canals. MRGO however, needs serious reconsideration and should probably be filled in.

I don't think that the lowest areas should be rebuilt. But, if homeowners don't get (enough) insurance money, and own a flooded home - with a mortgage - what choice do they have but to rebuild it, but unless the
Federal Government buys the owners out at "pre K" prices. what choice do they have but to stay and rebuild - it's their home!

MAKE LEVEES, NOT WAR!
Posted By Anonymous Brian, Hoover AL : 7:48 PM ET
I have never been to N.O.but have always wanted to attend Mardi Gras so i am hoping that N.O. is rebuilt.Having said that,i do believe that whoever takes on the responsability to rebuild, do so with the intent of making everything,and i mean everything to withstand cat5 hurricanes even if they come one after the other. Only then should the good folks of N.O. be allowed to return to rebuild thier shattered lives with the confidence that they won't have to do the same thing again all over again in a year or two as peoples sympathy has been stretched to the point of exhaustion with all the disasters that have happened in recent history.Good Luck N.O.
Posted By Anonymous mark, coquitlam,british columbia : 7:55 PM ET
I like the way tobacco smells even though I dont smoke. America is giving into another prohibition based on trumped up charges. What is aweful is we are misled into blaming tobacco for the real culprit (car exhaust). if car exhaust will kill you in a matter of seconds in a garage, imagine how terrible it is in small amounts.
Posted By Anonymous Gee Iman, Anchorage, AK : 12:03 AM ET
The camel's nose is now under the tent. Let's just give people a physical and graduate the cost accordingly. Wo to the less fortunate and needy. I am NOT my brother's keeper! It's a FREE FOR ALL!
Heath Care should be taken in common for every citizen. When one targets one group to be excluded - then we all are at risk of prejudice and exclusion.
Posted By Anonymous HarryBurdette,Morrisville,PA,19067 : 12:51 AM ET
He's just another tycon making profit at the expense of others, masking his actions as "Community Service" or something else soft and fuzzy. Crooks, all of them!!! If it's not true, then why did he stop making purchases?
Posted By Anonymous Thomas, Dallas Tx. : 11:23 AM ET
Stories like this worry me. Why does "carpet bagger" keep coming to mind.

If we're not careful, New Orleans is going to become the greatest land grab in history.
Posted By Anonymous Diane, New Orleans, Louisiana (and yes, we'll be back) : 9:37 AM ET
Cudos for Quinn on what he is trying to do, but why rebuild a city that is bound for the same devastation? We will see in 6 months if it will happen again, and if not this coming up season it will defenitly happen in the future.
Posted By Anonymous Chad, Daytona Beach, FL : 9:59 AM ET
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